The Watchman

The Watchman

Monday, January 27, 2014

Too Many Good Choices

I really hate it when you have to choose between two good things - or many good things.  These are the times that I wish I could be like Michael Keaton in Multiplicity and find a way to be everywhere at once so I didn't feel like I was letting someone (everyone) down.  It is easy when the choice is between good and bad or something you like and something you don't like, but dang it is hard when you are forced to choose between things you really do like.

That is what happened to me this last week.  I really love scrapbooking and my amazing friend puts on a full-out super scrapbooking retreat each January.  I love to get together with the women I see there every year.  Especially because this is usually the only time I get to see some of them all year.  But this year as the date grew closer and along with it the time to commit, family circumstances led me to believe that I needed to be home.  I was able to have a mini-getaway the end of October with one of the ladies in the group who also would be unable to attend in January.  And yes, we did have a lot of fun! And yes, I was able to get quite a bit accomplished! And yes, it was great to have the break and I would do it again!  But this weekend as I watched the posts on Facebook from the other women in the group as they enjoyed their weekend, I felt a little sad.

On the other hand, I got to spend an amazing evening with my sweetheart.  I got to spend one more weekend with Jon - these are hopefully few in number before he returns to California.  I got to say goodbye to one of the students at school as they discharged.  I got to spend a Saturday afternoon with Wil running errands and having lunch.  I got to watch my husband sit on the stand for the first time as the first counselor in our LDS bishopric and try to manage the raising and lowering of the microphone.  (Yes, I got a good chuckle.)  All in all it was a good weekend, full of positive activities.  It was great to kick back and relax and build my familial relationships.

Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the idea of right or wrong when making choices that we cannot make a choice; we become timorous.  I have found that after analyzing the pros and cons of the options placed before me, if I "trust my gut" I do not regret my choice.  There is freedom in knowing that you have taken action; a sense of empowerment for lack of a better term.

Two of my favorite quotes:

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt 

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.
Amelia Earhart 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Our Miracle

I remember when Rick told me that he thought we should have one more child before he received his commission and our life as an active-duty military family would begin.  I remember laughing because there were only two months in order to get pregnant and give us enough time to have the baby and have the baby old enough for me to feel comfortable moving across the country.  Past experience with the previous two pregnancies seemed to indicate that a pregnancy would not be in the picture.  But surprise, two months later I found myself pregnant with no medical intervention required.  At the end of July, we were blessed with a little boy.

Now I wish I could say that he was the sweetest, happiest baby ever and that moving with him was a dream, but the reality was the kid had colic.  Every night as the sun went down, he would start to cry and would not stop until the sun came up again.  The only moments of peace were if he was in his swing rocking back and forth.  Rick and I took turns sleeping on the couch and winding up and pushing that baby swing.  Needless to say, there were four grumpy people in that house and Jon.  When I spoke with the his doctor, the doctor was at a loss on what to do other than wait it out.  He told me to give it two months.  Sure enough, two months later as we loaded up our trailer to move across the country we finally had a night with no crying.  Since that time, Jon has been nothing but steady, positive and most importantly: happy.

Fast forward to nine months ago: Jon was again two months away from a journey.  This time, instead of heading to the east coast, he would be heading west.  There was in that preparation to leave the same sense of excitement tempered with trepidation and fear of the unknown.  There were sleepless nights, but they were not filled with crying as the nights all those years before.  Instead, there was a constant review of packing and unpacking and repacking in hopes that nothing would be left behind.

Jon left for California to serve an LDS mission.  He met great people.  He was having many wonderful and faith building experiences.  He was so happy and felt so blessed to be there.  Then one night we received a phone call.  The caller was Jon's mission president, President Kendrick, letting us know that Jon had crashed his bike and was in the emergency room.  At the time, President Kendrick was still pretty sketchy with the details.  The doctors were running tests and trying to determine the extent of the damage.

In the emergency room.
Later in the evening we received word that Jon had been discharged from the hospital and would be seeing a specialist for his jaw in the morning.  What followed was four days of phone calls back and forth to California that resulted in my travelling there to be with Jon while he had surgery to put his jaw back together and bring him home to Utah to recover.  In the end, his injuries included severed ear canals, jaw broken on both sides, broken shoulder, stitches in his chin, bruised bone in his knee, and damage to his teeth.  In all, he has had five surgeries of various levels to put him back together.  But there was no head trauma, his hearing was undamaged, and even his glasses only received minor scratches.

Jon recently asked me if I wished I had kept him home so that he would not have been injured.  The answer to that is absolutely not.  Jon has become an example to us of our Heavenly Father's tender mercies for His children.  Through his experience, we have gained a deeper understanding of the Lord's guidance and the peace that the Holy Comforter can bring.  We witnessed the power of prayer.  At each step of this journey, Jon has been blessed with the right person at the right time to say what we needed to hear, to take the action that needed to be taken, to exercise the skill necessary to aid in his healing.  From the man on the street who was willing to load Jon and his companion in his truck so they could get help to the patient mission companion who was blessed with a knowledge of smoothies and the ability to make anything put in a blender taste good to the many caring professionals who were often inspired to do just one more test, these are the blessings for which we daily express gratitude.  That a body that had been so broken could be made whole is a miracle.

Life is not about bon-bons and tropical breezes.  Even Dorothy faced many challenges as she traveled the yellow brick road.  Life is to teach us to have faith, to rely not on our own understanding but to turn to the Lord.  As we acknowledge His hand in all things, we will see the daily miracles that surround us.  No matter our struggles and no matter our joys, we must remember that there is one who truly understands all.  When discouragement set in, Jon took strength from this verse in the Doctrine and Covenants:

D & C 122:7

7 ...know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

While he was in the emergency room, Jon was given a priesthood blessing.  He told me that he was promised that he would be made whole and that his pain would be minimal.  I have time and again been amazed that Jon was able to control the pain he did have through the use of ice packs and with medication no stronger than children's Motrin.  Through each new part of this experience, Jon has managed to keep a smile on his face.  Maybe it is because he got a lifetime of crying finished during those first two months of life, but it is more likely that when you learn to recognize the Lord in your life and heed his counsel, you cannot help but be happy.

Five days after the accident: Look closely and you can see how his face has
 become lopsided because of his jaw shifting.

After the first surgery in San Diego to repair his jaw.

Second surgery to repair his shoulder: this time in Utah.

About ready to go back: Just need some dental work finished.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Peace Amid Chaos

Early on a Saturday morning in October of 2013, my little family gathered together to accept the charge to Come Listen to Living Prophets.  My heart was full to overflowing.  Our family was together under one roof and though some were injured, all were alive and we knew they would heal.

I thought back to the previous year, with our family scattered.  Rick and I were leaving to head for Phoenix, when Jon came and told us that President Monson had announced that the age for missionaries had been reduced.  Jon wanted to go then, but had to wait till his orthodontic work was completed.  Rick and I spent that long car ride listening to the Saturday sessions when we could and discussing the messages, then connecting with Hunter and Jon by phone that evening and the next day.  Little did we know that a year later, Jon would not only have left for his mission, but been injured and returned home to heal. Five months later, that healing process is reaching an end and he will be returning to California to finish serving the Lord.

I reflected to the previous April.  Wil was home from Japan and we made the trek north to Ogden to meet up with Hunter and join together to watch Conference.  How my heart was touched that Conference with the messages of the love our Heavenly Father has for us, His desire for us to return to live with Him and the power of the Atonement.  Those were the words our family needed to hear at that time.  How blessed I felt to spend that day with my family and receive those words of counsel and reassurance.

I find great strength in my faith.  I know that I have a loving Heavenly who wants only the best for me.  I know that I have an elder brother, Jesus Christ, who paid the price of justice, so that I can have the gift and mercy of the Atonement in my life.  I know that through the power of the priesthood, my life is blessed and that my family can be together forever.

During 2013, our little family has faced many ups and downs in life.  At times it felt like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and we couldn't get off.  At times it was a bad dream from which we could not wake.  At times life was like a piece of hot fudge cake with brownies warm from the oven.  At times the joy we felt was so great it could not be contained.  At all times when we turned to our Heavenly Father in prayer our hearts were filled with peace.

Tomorrow will bring another adventure for us.  That is how it should be.  Life should be about moving forward.  The ups and downs of life help us learn what we need to know to move forward.  Life is the time for us to prepare to return to our Heavenly Father, to be able to live with Him for eternity.  I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned.  I know that the Lord hears and answers prayers.  I know that He is with us, to guide, to aide, to protect.  This knowledge has the power to calm my soul and bring me peace.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Word of the Year 2014

Each year as the old year ends and the new year begins, the challenge is made to set resolutions, to look for ways to improve and move forward with our lives.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.
Jack Layton 

A few years ago, a friend of mine challenged me that instead of creating a list of goals that could easily be forgotten or dismissed as they become too overwhelming, I should pick one word that I could focus on.  This word could become the focal point of my actions and help me in guiding my children and in all my relationships.

Two years ago I accepted the challenge and chose the word Cherish.  As the year unfolded, I often reflected on this word and learned to slow down and enjoy the moment.  Last year, I chose the word gratitude.  I spent the year trying to identifying ways that I could express gratitude in both word and in action.  I hope that I was quicker to say thank you and more willing to help when asked.  I know I tried, but I find myself in the role of my worst critic, so I often feel that I could have done better.

This leads me to my choice of a word for this year: Optimism.

Optimism is defined as:

1. tendency to expect best: the tendency to believe, expect, or hope that things will turn out well

2. confidence: the attitude of somebody who feels positive or confident

3. doctrine that our world is best: a philosophical doctrine, first proposed by Leibnitz, that ours is the best of all possible worlds.

There is a running joke between Rick and one of our longest friends. (Cindy, please note that I did not say oldest.)  Rick and Cindy often refer to me as Rick's favorite pessimist.  I tend to play the devil's advocate, always looking for what could go wrong.  I find myself always anticipating the worst, planning options for the worst case scenario.  While I still feel it is important to be prepared, I want to change my focus so that I do not think the worst first, but look for the best.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Helen Keller 

If I learned anything in 2013, it is that if you do not look for the best in a situation, there is a good possibility that you will end up in the corner curled in a fetal possession.  2013 was filled with many experiences for our family that strengthened our faith and trust in our loving Heavenly Father.  My testimony was strengthened as I developed a greater understanding of the need for trials in our lives.  The year ended with my heart full of gratitude for the many blessings our family had received.  This is a feeling I do not want to lose.

So my choice for Word of the Year is to help me carry that feeling of gratitude forward through 2014 and beyond.  As I look for the best, I will have a life that is fuller, richer, more joyful.